Anxiety – a Battle of Faith?

If you are feeling anxious about anything, one perspective to think about is that your anxiety is a battle of faith. This perspective was discussed by Dr. Charles Stanley in a recent sermon and has prompted me to consider how this perspective could be helpful.

First, it’s important to say that being a person of faith does not mean that you will never have any anxiety, or that feeling anxiety should be taken to mean that you do not have faith. Instead, being a person of faith means that you have it in your power to get the anxiety under control more quickly than you otherwise would.

Dr. Stanley’s Bible reference was Philippians 4:6-7, which itself is very useful for activating the power to overcome anxiety. The two verses read: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is how the New International Version has it. The Amplified Bible stretches that out a bit: “6Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  7And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The way to do battle against anxiety is to memorize those two verses (in whatever Bible version or translation you prefer), then repeat them to yourself on any occasion in which you are feeling anxious. You will find your faith bolstered and your anxiety calmed.

           

Self-acceptance: Finding the Diamonds

“People behave rationally only part of the time; the rest of the time we take stupid risks and do other things we can’t explain,” Elizabeth Sims wrote in an article published in the March/April 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest. The intent of the article was to advise writers in how to make their stories better and this key had to do with “embracing idiosyncrasies” in the characters we have created. By not only accepting but celebrating the fact that our characters aren’t perfect, we allow them to be real enough to become effective in communicating the messages we are hoping our writing will achieve.

What’s true for fiction is also true in our everyday spirituality. Some of us are still trying to put out the persona that we never fail, that we are always happy, that we have life figured out and all is good all the time. Of course this is ridiculous and trying to maintain the front is wearing us out. How much better for all of us if we can accept that sometimes we take stupid risks and do irrational things we can’t explain. Where grace comes in (in real life) is that we can know at the same time that we are loved by the Divinity that lives in us and we always have another chance to try again – and in trying again, we remove a little more of the dross from the diamonds we are in spirit.

           

Spirituality in Your Car

This blog is about everyday spirituality … and I’ve noticed that for those of us who are commuters or are in our cars a lot for other reasons, a portion of our spirituality is practiced in the car. So, it seemed reasonable to look a little closer at that.

How can you conduct a spiritual practice in your car? For starters, you can pray – right out loud. You aren’t likely to be so loud as to disturb your neighbors in their cars, and sometimes praying out loud is a good way to keep yourself on track and avoid the mind-wandering that can happen with silent prayer.

Another thing is to practice gratitudes. Imagine if you have a 20-minute commute and you spend all of it stating aloud thanksgiving for everything you can think of for which you are grateful. I’ve done this and can attest that it’s a great way to arrive at your destination happier than you likely would have otherwise.

A third thing is to practice blessing others. Most of us, I guess, pray for the safety and well-being of people we know and love, but blessing others from your position inside your car gives you a much wider field of persons to bless because you can lift up every individual you see. They may be total strangers, but for a brief moment they are in your proximity, and both your life and theirs will be enhanced by your blessing.

In his time, back when BC was changing to AD, Jesus advised people to go into their closets to pray (Matthew 6:6). Who knows: maybe today he would advise going into your cars to pray.

           

Practicing Everyday Spirituality as a Detective

The First Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery, by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay, is a fascinating work of fiction that does a surprisingly good job of combining a detective/mystery with a dharma-focused life. This sounds almost impossible. When I mentioned to a friend who is Buddhist that I was reading a novel about a Tibetan Buddhist monk who becomes a cop in Los Angeles, she said flatly: “No Buddhist monk would ever become a cop!”

Tenzing Norbu was reared in a monastery in Dharamshala, India, but his personal dream was to become a detective. He fulfilled the dream but never lost the impact of his years of training. When he needs to reach out to his childhood friends, who are still living as monks in India, he makes contact spiritually and receives their guidance. And when he gets into a tough spot, not knowing which way to turn in trying to solve a series of murders, he asks the unseen realm: “How can I discern what lies beneath … How can I use my skills and presence to ensure that the highest good is accomplished? … May answers come to me by easeful attraction rather than stressful pursuit, and may all beings benefit from these inquiries.”

Tenzing’s First Rule is that if you’re open to learning, you get your life-lessons delivered as gently as a feather, but if you’re defensive, stubborn, and refuse to pay attention, the sledgehammer will fall!

The book relays a full-blown mystery, is fun to read, and depicts a person living his spirituality despite being in a role not commonly associated with spiritual matters. Hay House published the book in 2012, and I hear that The Second Rule of Ten is on the way. Can’t wait!